By Jesse Wood
Aug. 22, 2014. On Tuesday, the Boone Town Council directed town staff and the Boone Area Planning Commission to review the “West Downtown Alive” plan, which includes a proposed greenway through the old Southern States property from the Temple of the High Country to Water Street.
The greenway trail, which was described as the “backbone” of the project, would parallel Boone Creek.
The plan, which was designed by Destination by Design, also calls for a roundabout at the intersection of Poplar Grove Road and Rivers and Water streets – in addition to a median on Water Street. (See images below.)
Destination by Design partner Eric Woolridge said that this project would be a great collaboration between Boone, Watauga County, private developers and property owners. Woolridge noted potential grants available for a project like this and suggested the council leverage sidewalk funds for grant monies.
Planning Director Bill Bailey said that a developer has acquired the old Southern States property and will be appearing before the Boone Board of Adjustment to request five variances for a mixed-used project next month. (This developer appeared before the adjustment board last year.)
Bailey noted that by the council adopting the plan, it would be easier to require developers wishing to redevelop to build a project that is compatible to this concept.
“In terms of making it enforceable, the town has to adopt. Direction needs to come from you,” Bailey said.
Councilwoman Lynne Mason asked if any of the presenters “sensed a willingness” from private property owners to collaborate on the project.
Bailey mentioned that the developers seem “perfectly willing to participate.”
Town Attorney Sam Furgiuele warned the council about moving to fast with this project without procuring easements to construct the greenway and other features along private property.
Furgiuele reminded the council about the Howard Street project, when the town “spent a bunch of money” on designs, consultants and plans but couldn’t procure easements from the property owners along Howard Street in the end.
Earlier in the meeting, Bailey told the council that the planning staff and Boone Area Planning Commission could fast track this matter if it wished.
Council voted to have the Boone Area Planning Commission to review the project and report back to the council.
See images of the concept below.